What Causes Depression?
What is Clinical Depression?
Clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, occurs when someone experiences overwhelming, uncontrollable, and often debilitating feelings of emptiness, sadness, and irritability. With clinical depression, these emotions become so overpowering that they interfere with your ability to complete or fully engage in everyday obligations and tasks successfully. Without help from a treatment center specializing in depression treatment, the ongoing struggles with depression and its symptoms can evolve from challenging to complete loss of functioning at work, at home, or in social settings.
Although discussed widely in conversations about mental health, depression is not the most common mental illness. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIH) data, depression affects approximately 7% of the American population annually.
What Causes Depression?
Depression can occur at any age; however, symptoms often appear during adolescence and early adulthood. Women also experience depression at a higher rate than men. While the signs and symptoms of depression are understood, the exact cause of clinical depression remains mostly unknown. Research suggests a variety of factors may combine to increase your risk for developing depression throughout your lifetime. These factors include:
- Brain chemistry: Research suggests depression stems from an imbalance or abnormality of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that naturally occur within the brain. They are responsible for carrying signals to other parts of the brain and the body. When these vital chemicals are impaired or abnormal, the function of the nerve receptors and the nerve systems changes, leading to depression.
- Inherited traits: Depression is more common among people with a blood relative who shares the diagnosis.
- Early childhood trauma: Traumatic events experienced during early childhood may cause changes in the brain, making a person more susceptible to depression.
- Substance abuse: Addiction and depression often co-occur, and a vast body of research suggests a strong link between these conditions. Many research studies have shown that substance abuse and other addictive behaviors may increase one’s vulnerability to depression. Conversely, when someone struggles with depression, it can lead to addiction as a form of self-medication.
What are the Signs of Depression?
Depression is an illness that consists of depressive episodes. An “episode” is when you experience symptoms associated with depression for a minimum of two weeks. Without treatment help, depression symptoms often worsen and cause significant impairment and, in some cases, self-harm or suicide.
Individuals who struggle with major depressive disorder may experience partial or total remission periods. During these periods, their symptoms may go away, or they may experience a significant reduction in their symptoms. Symptoms of depression may pass on their own in some cases; however, even though a particular episode of depression may pass, it does not mean depression is cured.
There are several emotional and behavioral indications of a depressive episode, including feelings of sadness, anger, irritability, loss of interest in activities or hobbies, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, difficulties concentrating, low self-worth, fatigue, appetite changes, increased isolation, poor personal hygiene, frequent talk of thoughts of death or suicide, substance abuse, and self-harming behaviors.
Clinical depression does not resolve on its own. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with depression or have experienced symptoms of depression for more than two weeks, it is essential to reach out for help. At a treatment program like Brightside Recovery, our experienced and compassionate treatment team can help you understand your symptoms. With treatment and support as part of a comprehensive treatment program, you or a loved one will develop the tools and skills you need to safely and effectively manage depressive episodes in the future.
How to Find Depression Treatment Programs
Depression is a severe illness. When you live with depression, your symptoms are far more than an occasional case of “the blues” or having a down day. For many who live with depression, depressive episodes are recurrent and sometimes increase in their intensity. There are many treatments that mental health providers can use to help treat and reduce the severity and frequency of your symptoms.
At Brightside Recovery, we will work with you to develop a treatment plan uniquely focused on your symptoms and treatment needs. Brightside Recovery is an addiction treatment facility in Illinois ready to provide you with the help you need today. Depression is a chronic condition that will not resolve on its own, but with help and treatment, it is possible to manage symptoms. If you or a loved one struggles with depression, contact us today at Brightside Recovery to learn more about how our treatment programs in Illinois can help.